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Can slow and steady win the drug-discovery race? France's Cerep prepares to find out, as it pushes past its fee-for-service start.
CombiChem's acquisition by DuPont deal is, somewhat paradoxically, yet further proof of the difficulty that early-stage biotechs will have in finding Big Pharma buyers. Unless discovery biotechs are offering something specifically appropriate to a particular drug firm, even moderately valued acquisitions are unlikely exit opportunities.
At the January 1999 Hambrecht & Quist meeting, investors were hearing a new message from biotechs: the Millennium-ization of the industry. Platform companies are promising to leverage their technologies much more aggressively for many more customers. They'll identify their assets, sell them, and sell them again.
Riccardo Pigliucci, former CEO of Life Sciences International PLC and past president and COO of Perkin Elmer Corp. thinks he has found a model that will serve the small companies' needs to build value, keep up with technological innovation and create large enough operations to make Big pharma feel comfortable in dealing with them. Discovery Partners International is a sort of holding company for drug discovery tool companies. It has made its first investments in combinatorial chemistry company Irori and chemical library provider ChemRx.
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